Black vs. Green Tea
Scones vs. Biscuits

Baker's Percentage

Q: In A Trio of Bread Books, you mention "Baker's Percentage".  What is it and how does it work?

-- Pat R.

Baker's Percentage is a notation method for bread recipes.  Using Baker's Percentage, the amount of each ingredient is given as a weight, stated as a percentage of the total weight of flour used.  For example, a simple white bread recipe* might read something like:

Ingredient Percent
All-purpose flour 100.00
Powdered Milk 0.66
Butter 5.23
Sugar 2.61
Salt 1.96
Yeast 0.72
Water (approx.) 62.75

In this example, the weight of sugar used would be 2.61% of the weight of  flour.

There are a few advantages to using Baker's Percentage.  First, it is uniform.  All of the ingredients are weighed, which reduces variations from factors such as settling of ingredients (see Sifting Flour).  Second, the recipe is easily scalable, especially when you are working at bakery size lots.  Using 50 pounds of flour?  Then you need 50 X 5.23% = 2.615 pounds of butter.  Easy!

Also, the recipe allows you to predict something about the nature of the bread.  Standard breads, such as the one above use about 57% to 65% water to flour ratio.  A more open bread, like Italian Ciabatta, has a higher water content -- 65% to 80%.

Finally, the formula allows you to go backwards from a target batch.  If you want to make 200 - 2 pound loaves of bread, start by totaling all of the percentages above.  It comes out to 173.93.  The batch would weight 400 pounds, so it would take 400 / 176.72 X 100 = 229.98 pounds of flour, 1.52 pounds of powdered milk, and so on.  In practice, the numbers would be rounded up or down to something more convenient, maybe 230 pounds of flour and 1½ pounds of powdered milk.

In home bread making, however, there are a few shortcomings.  Most people aren't used to measuring ingredients by weight, and may not have a kitchen scale to do it with.  Even if they do, their scale is probably not sensitive enough to weigh some of the ingredients, like the yeast.  For a singe loaf, the above recipe would use something like 18 ounces of flour, which is the equivalent of about 4 cups.  The amount of yeast, then, would be 18 X 0.72% = 0.13 ounces of yeast.  My own kitchen scale, which is pretty much standard, is only accurate to within 0.1 ounces, so I couldn't  measure 0.13 ounces with any reliability at all.

Some books on bread making try to avoid these problems by giving measures in volumes, weights and Baker's Percentages, or some combination.  I personally prefer to use the percentages, and then convert back the smaller measured ingredients, like the yeast, into teaspoons and tablespoons, or parts of.  If you want to do that, here are a few useful conversions:

Ingredient Weight Volume
All-purpose flour 4.5 oz 1 cup
Powdered Milk 1.0 oz 3 tbsp
Butter 1.0 oz 2 tbsp
Sugar 1.0 oz 2 tbsp
Salt (table) 1.0 oz 4 tsp
Yeast (Active) 0.1 oz 1 tsp
Yeast (Instant) 0.11 oz 1 tsp
Water 8.0 oz 1 cup

The amount of yeast in the above recipe, then would be 1 1/4 teaspoons.

(* The example is actually is the Basic White Bread recipe from my bread maker, stated as Baker's Percentages)
This article was originally posted in August of 2005.  A number of values have been changed since that version. My thanks to Mark Williams who sent me an email pointing out that the math in the original version was wrong.


The reason it is important to weigh flour is that the texture of various flours and the degree to which they are compacted affect how much or how little space they may take up. Weighing flour leaves less room for error. Flour is the main ingredient in the baker’s percentage, and as such is considered 100%. If more than one flour is used in a formula, the combined total is 100%. As an example, in a formula calling for 400g of unbleached all-purpose flour and 100g of whole wheat flour, the unbleached flour would be stated as 80%, the whole wheat flour as 20%, and the combined total of 500g of flour as 100%. The weight of each ingredient, other than the flour, is expressed as a percentage of the total flour weight. In other words, each ingredient in a formula is independently calculated and shown as a percentage of the flour in that same formula.

Baker's Percentage? Good idea, thanks for the info.

Great web site but who are you. I love the site. thanks Frany--------------------------Frany:

You can find out about me in the "About" section of the website: or click the "About" link in the upper left below the graphic.Dave

Thanks for this info. It will be now much easier to convert from weigths to volume. Most European recipes are in weights, but volume is so much easier to do.

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